Penn State Preview: Michigan

Keyvone Lee and the unbeaten Nittany Lions head to Michigan this weekend for a Top-10 matchup against the Wolverines. Kickoff is set for noon on FOX. Photo credit: Steve Manuel.

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions this football season.

Game details: at Michigan, noon kickoff, broadcast on FOX.

Records: No. 10 Penn State (5-0, 2-0) at No. 5/4 Michigan (6-0, 3-0).

Venue: Michigan Stadium, where Penn State won 27-17 during its last trip in 2020.

Weather forecast (via Accuweather): Old school football weather, with a high of 58 degrees. The forecast also calls for intervals of clouds and sunshine, with a possible shower.

The line: Penn State +7

All-time series: Michigan leads 15-10, including an 8-4 mark in Ann Arbor.

Last week: Penn State had a bye, while Michigan pulled away from Indiana in the second half for a 31-10 victory at Bloomington.

Last meeting: Michigan escaped Beaver Stadium with a 21-17 win.

Prior to kickoff in Ann Arbor in 2018, both the Penn State and Michigan bands performed pre-game, before ROTC Cadet and active duty Marines saluted during the flag-raising, and four F-16 Fighting Falcons flew over Michigan Stadium. Photo credit: Steve Manuel

Throwback classic (1994): Do you believe in messages from the universe? The year of Penn State’s run to the Big Ten and Rose Bowl title in 1994, the Nittany Lions faced Michigan in Ann Arbor on Oct. 15, with a 5-0 record, coming off a bye. That’s the exact situation Penn State heads into this weekend. Defensive back Tony Pittman started for that team — and led Penn State in interceptions the previous season — and you can hear Pittman chat about that team (and game) on this week’s episode of Football Letter Live. Tony appeared with his father, Charlie, a letterman running back who led Penn State in rushing and to two victories in the Orange Bowl in the late 1960s.

The lead: If Penn State will contend for a conference championship and possible spot in the College Football Playoff, going 2-1, at a minimum, over the next three weeks, is absolutely necessary. After Michigan breezed through a non-conference scheduled that offered little resistance, the Wolverines bested Maryland, Iowa, and Indiana to open Big Ten play.

For Nittany Lion quarterback and team captain, Sean Clifford, opportunities like the one coming Saturday will largely define his last season, and perhaps his career. Go into Michigan, lead a win over the fourth-ranked team in the country, and propel the team forward will go a long way this season and beyond.

Michigan boasts the seventh-best rushing offense in the country. The flip side: Penn State has the fifth-best rushing defense in the nation. If one side can assert itself at the line in a significant way, that advantage should be a determining factor. Turnovers — forcing and avoiding — will be another. Sounds simple, though as linebacker Tyler Elsdon said a few weeks: “Football, at the end of the day, it’s about tackling and blocking. The team that tackles best and blocks best usually wins.”

Against Central Michigan last month, true freshman running back Kaytron Allen rushed for 111 yards on 13 carries — the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. Photo credit: Steve Manuel

Shoutout to our Michigan Chapter: Our Michigan Chapter — along with the Alumni Association — will host an alumni mixer Friday night. The event has been sold out for weeks, and you can learn more by visiting the chapter’s website and watching this week’s episode of Football Letter Live. Chapter President Brodie Schultz joined the show to preview the weekend and talk about the chapter’s impact and experience in uniting Penn Staters. You can also visit our active list of chapters and affiliate groups to connect with alumni near you or with whom you have shared interests.

Roar Tour: If you’re heading to Ann Arbor for the game, we hope to see you at our Roar Tour pregame pep rally Saturday morning. See the pep band, cheerleaders, and Nittany Lions, and members who attend will receive a commemorative lanyard with the 2022 football schedule and roster.You can sign up for the Roar Tour at Michigan on our site.

Keep an eye on: true freshmen running backs Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton. The duo is averaging 153 rushing yards per game this season, and finding space for them beyond the initial blocks will be crucial for Penn State to build offensive rhythm.

Academic excellence: A total of 552 of Penn State football student-athletes have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors since 1993 for owning at least a 3.0 grade point average and being a letterwinner.

Trivia tidbit, Part 1: Singleton ranks in the FBS, averaging 7.35 yards per carry.

Trivia tidbit, Part 2: Sean Clifford has totaled 8,869 career passing yards, second all-time at Penn State. Trace McSorely is ahead with 9,901.

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